An optional, rather than mandatory, essay on the SATs is a mistake

 

College Board President David Coleman

College Board President David Coleman recently announced changes to the SATs, including making the essay portion optional, which is an insane idea.

College Board President David Coleman announced recently that effective 2016, there will be dramatic changes in the SATs, the college entrance examinations used to determine high school students’ profile and suitability for college-level work. Among the changes that he announced will be elimination of words that he views as archaic from the vocabulary section of the examination in favor of words that he feels are more relatable such as “empirical.” Also, the total scores one can earn will return to 1600, down from 2400. Those changes may well be practical in order to streamline the examination he said.

One of the best changes that he outlined was the creation of free online college test preparation entities to level the playing field for students from all income levels. That change in particular will provide low income students with access to free tutoring and college preparation resources, a huge change from in the past when many test preparation services were affordable to high income earners alone.

“If the College Board is serious we must confront the inequalities such as cost in test preparation,” Coleman said of the plan to introduce fee online test preparation services.

That is a positive step. But the decision to make the essay portion of the examination optional is not. The inferior writing style of many high school graduates is appalling. And their lack of awareness of classic books and those authors’ contribution to literature is embarrassing. High school students need more practice with essay writing, not less. For one thing, they need to hone that important skill in order to write a compelling entrance essay to be included as part of the college application packet. Moreover, the art of writing an essay becomes more important when the student begins to take non-mathematical classes such as the humanities, history, psychology and all classes that require above average writing skills.

It is shocking to see the inferior writing and communication skills displayed by the average high school graduates, many of whom use social media around the clock and find it difficult to actually spell the words that they often abbreviate in everyday life. Making the essay optional will do these students no favors. Instead, it will erode the impetus that they had, minimal though is was to begin with, to fine tune their writing skills and learn to write in a more sophisticated way.

Sometimes even college graduates produce writing that is so dreadful that it hurts the eyes of the reader. Usually the explanation that is given is that these writing-challenged individuals graduated from inner-city public schools which lacked adequate tools to sufficiently educate them. Well, a good place to start in correcting such an oversight is encouraging students to read more, expand their repertoire by including books that span cultural backgrounds and to practice the craft of writing in different styles, beginning with a basic, well-thought out and properly-developed essay.

The College Board needs to reconsider this matter immediately and reinstate the essay as a vital and central portion of the SATs, not an optional matter. Students’ future depend on it.–OnPointPress.net.

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U.S soccer icon Brianna Scurry testifies on Capitol Hill, highlights concussions

 

Brianna Scurry was part of a delegation of sports representatives who testified on Capitol Hill about concussions and other sports injuries last week.
Retired U.S. Soccer great Brianna Scurry was part of a delegation of sports representatives who testified on Capitol Hill about concussions and other sports injuries last week.

 By Carmen Glover

During her heyday at the helm of the U.S. female soccer team, Brianna Scurry, 42, was a dazzling presence, protecting the goal post, frustrating opponents and elevating the game of U.S. female soccer to spectacular heights. As the goal keeper, she made an impressive save against the Chinese team in 1999, securing the U.S’s first World Cup trophy in history and garnering a solid fan base of supporters and admirers. She was a part of the U.S. soccer team that also won two Olympic gold medals.

Brianna Scurry showcasing her talents.

Brianna Scurry showcasing her talents that inspired many young  females to join soccer teams.

But her career ended horrendously when she was hit in the head, enduring knee-to-head contact with a player on an opposing team, causing concussion and neck injuries that have left her a shell of her former self. A surgery followed, as did a dramatic withdrawal from public life leading ultimately to her retirement.

It was refreshing to see her re-emerge on the public stage last week on Capitol Hill testifying about the dangers of concussions that lurk in sports, particularly to young female athletes who play soccer, football, lacrosse, basketball and other contact sports. Scurry joined sports safety advocates in testifying last Thursday at the U.S House of Representatives’ hearing on “Improving Sports Safety: A Multifaceted Approach.”

Brianna Scurry being attacked by a Brazilian player.

Brianna Scurry being attacked by a Brazilian player because her prowess was unmatched.

“My life reads like a script from Oprah’s Where are they now? Like Many of Oprah’s guests, I too have been left in deep dark places with my face in the dirt and have only recently began to claw my way back to life,” she said in her testimony before the subcommittee.  Scurry described suffering “intense, piercing headaches” leading to surgery, which has provided her some relief.

“Fortunately the surgery appears to have helped me. However, I’m still being treated for symptoms such as lack of concentration, balance issues, memory loss, anxiety and depression,” she said.

Brianna Scurry demonstrating expertise in the game of soccer.

Brianna Scurry was always a pleasure to watch as she excelled in making female soccer players exciting, with save upon save that inspired confidence and won her a legion of fans.

Speaking afterwards on ABC’s World News Tonight with correspondent Jim Avila, Scurry was circumspect, eloquent and passionate about her quest to highlight sports injuries so that young athletes and their families can take preventive actions to preserve their safety and well-being.

“I don’t remember being hit and I don’t remember falling over but I’m still suffering from the effects of that hit,” she told Avila, explaining that she remained in the game initially after she suffered her career-ending injury. Cautioning athletes, she urged: “If you start to feel a little bit woozy or sick to your stomach you have to tell a teammate or your coach.”

Brianna Scurry in yet another exciting, stellar save.

Brianna Scurry in yet another exciting, stellar save, which was her trademark when she dominated the game.

According to testimony at the Capitol Hill hearing, soccer, lacrosse and basketball are among the top sports that cause the most concussions and head injuries to female athletes at the high school and college levels. The testimonies provided a sober reminder that efforts need to be sustained and vocal in order to protect all athletes from injury, even as they seek to entertain and thrill fans across the globe. –OnPointPress.net

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March Madness continues to enrich many, just not the players

The NCAA showcases March Madness across four different stations.

The NCAA showcases March Madness across four different stations.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

Conference tournaments in college basketball wrap up this weekend, followed by selection Sunday, then the eventual start of the NCAA tournament this coming week. Once the teams are selected, people can begin the tradition of filling out their brackets and hoping their bracket wins whichever pool they have entered.

The one-and-done format of the NCAA basketball tournament provides many intriguing outcomes, including upsets and close games, while also having the best college stars performing at their best. Ironically, while the college players are giving everything they have to win the tournament, everyone else involved in the tournament has a chance to get rich.

Warren Buffet (l) and Dan Gilbert (r) sponsor a promotion that will reward a lucky participant with one billion dollars for a perfect bracket.

Warren Buffet (l) and Dan Gilbert (r) sponsor a promotion that will reward a lucky participant with one billion dollars for a perfect bracket.

Warren Buffet and Dan Gilbert are offering a billion dollars this year for any person with a perfect bracket, who correctly predicts the winner in the NCAA tournament. Although it is unlikely that anyone will collect the prize, it is the largest prize ever offered for this tournament. But the casual fans aren’t the only ones that will cash in on March Madness, if one lucky fans do predict all the winners.

As usual, the NCAA will profit quite handsomely with their television deal and piqued interest this tournament produces. The expanded coverage now allows fans to watch every game across four different stations at once. The wider television coverage helps increase the chance fans can catch all the best moments the tournament has to offer.

While college basketball fans appreciate being able to see the game of their choice, it is still hard to escape the reality that the players who will generate millions of dollars are unable to earn from their own efforts. So another March Madness gets ready to begin but nothing changes for the players, who give their best, for nonexistent financial rewards. –OnPointPress.net

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.

3 ways to rescue your fitness regimen in time for summer

Donna Richardson Joyner shares many fitness tips.

Donna Richardson Joyner, 57, shares many fitness tips online, in her books and on television.

By Carmen Glover

If you are like many folks who yearn to be fit and toned but struggle with the discipline required to achieve that goal, don’t be discouraged; getting into shape is more challenging than people tend to realize. It’s usually easy to decide, often on a whim or after seeing the doctor for a yearly physical, that something drastic needs to be done to lose weight, tone up and maintain a healthy lifestyle. But the work that it takes to achieve those lofty goals is arduous, tedious and just plan difficult for many people who are trying to balance parenting, working, paying bills and simply surviving.

Many people tackle the fitness agenda with great enthusiasm at the beginning of the year, only to lose focus, drive and discipline as the winter months drag on, battering their psyches with inclement weather and sheer exhaustion. But wait, there is hope. Here are three things you can do right away to restart your fitness engine. These tips were culled from information provided by experts including medical doctors, fitness professionals, nurses and nutritionists.

The Biggest Loser trainer also has a book and DVD set describing ways to lose weight the healthy way.

“The Biggest Loser” trainer Jillian Michaels, 40, also has a book and DVD set describing ways to lose weight the healthy way.

1. Take Little Steps Daily

Rather than becoming consumed with the desired end result, it is more practical and useful to commit to taking several small steps each day. The steps can include simple things such as five minutes of stretching, followed by five minutes of brisk walking from room to room in the home, combined with aerobic activities such as jumping jacks, jogging in place or outside if possible, working the abs and lifting some weights, using items around the home. Try to aim for 15 to 30 minutes each session and if you feel like breaking up the time into two or more sessions per day, do that. According to physicians, nutritionists and fitness experts, it’s the consistent routine that matters, not gym memberships or extensive, hours-long, workout sessions.

Dr. Ian Smith has written several books about losing weight the right way.

Dr. Ian Smith, 44, has written several books about losing weight the right way and keeping it off.

2. Consult a Personal Trainer, Read Books or Take Classes for Specific Goals

If you have specific goals to achieve and you fear that your motivation level is not as high as it should be, consult with a personal trainer who will be your official cheerleader and drill sergeant to keep you on schedule. If you thrive in a setting which offers camaraderie in numbers, look into classes. Zumba, yoga, step and boot camp classes are offered at most gyms. Other classes include spinning and strength training. It is also helpful to read books written by professionals who share their expertise on safe and effective weight loss strategies. Among those experts who are currently promoting fitness books are Donna Richardson Joyner, Jillian Michaels, Dr. Ian Smith and Dr. Travis Stork.

3. Increase Fruits, Vegetables and Water Intake, Reduce Sugars and Fat 

During the cold months of Winter, comfort foods serve a dual purpose of encouraging nesting while satisfying hunger. But with Spring comes the extended daytime hours, sunshine and the urge to get up and move. Experts recommend increasing intake of fruits, vegetables, water and protein while reducing the intake from carbohydrates, sugars and fat. Also, they recommend eating six times per day, to include three main meals and three snacks to boost the metabolic rate, which, in turn, burns calories. But avoid fast and processed foods and try to eat less, since experts state that people tend to eat more and exercise less than they usually care to admit.

Dr. Travis Stork of "The Doctors" recently released a book sharing his tips for safe weight loss.

Dr. Travis Stork, 42, of “The Doctors” recently released a book sharing his tips for safe weight loss.

By utilizing these measures as well as keeping a good record of what you eat each day, you will be in a good position to monitor all facets of your weight loss and fitness regimen such as your energy output, the food and calories consumed and the degree of activity that is included in your daily routine. The best mentality to have is that it takes a long period of time to gain excess weight, therefore expecting to shed enormous amounts of weight and become svelte and toned in a short period of time is not only unrealistic, it is dangerous.

Follow the experts and pace yourself, while trying to have fun along the way by indulging regularly in activities that you like whether it is dancing, jogging or using the treadmill or elliptical. Ask a friend or relative to join your quest so you can motivate each other. Don’t forget to incorporate regular household activities such as cleaning, which includes bending routines that often work the legs and arms while giving a good cardiovascular workout. The bottom line is that Summer is several months away so there is ample time to become focused, lose weight, become toned and achieve measurable results.  -OnPointPress.net.

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Have the New York Knicks learned from the Pat Riley saga?

The Knicks seemed poised to bring New York a championship in the 90's with the pairing of Pat Riley (l) and Patrick Ewing (r).

The Knicks seemed poised to bring New York a championship in the 90’s with the pairing of Pat Riley (l) and Patrick Ewing (r).

By Charles Glover Jr.

With rumors swirling that Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson is considering a front office position with, the New York Knicks, the team he once won a championship with as a player, the question that comes to mind is, can even he save this team? The Knicks’ franchise has a tortured recent history of mishaps and missteps that traces all the way back to 1995 when then head coach Pat Riley wanted final control over personnel matters. While it wasn’t clear at the time, the Knicks should have given in to his request.

Pat Riley is the only person in the 3 major sports to win a championship as a player, coach and an executive.

Pat Riley is the only person in the 3 major sports to win a championship as a player, coach and an executive.

The immediate aftermath of Riley’s acrimonious departure was actually favorable for the Knicks. The Miami Heat, where Riley signed on the day after turning down the Knicks contract extension offer, were found guilty of tampering and the Knicks would consistently get the better of the Heat in the several times the teams would meet in the playoffs between 1996 and 2001. However, the takeaway from Riley’s early tenure is that the Heat became immediate championship contenders shortly after his arrival as a head coach/president of operations. Meanwhile, the Knicks’ post-Riley experience peaked in 1999 with an upset of the Heat, with the Knicks as a #8 seed, and another unsuccessful trip to the NBA Finals. When Riley stepped down as head coach of the Heat in 2004 after a string of disappointing seasons, it was the beginning of a successful stretch of executive moves.

Riley is hoping to be at the helm of a 4th championship for the Miami Heat.

Riley is hoping to be at the helm of a 4th championship for the Miami Heat.

Riley has made some smart decisions in the NBA Draft, taking players like Eddie House, Caron Butler, Dwayne Wade, and Mario Chalmers, all players that have helped the Heat teams win championships. Riley is more known for his ability to attract free agents and make significant trades. In 1996, Riley traded for Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway, then signed key free agents like Jamal Mashburn, P.J. Brown, and Dan Majerle over the next couple of seasons to make that team a championship contender. In 2004, Riley signed Lamar Odom, then used him in a trade, along with a draft pick, Caron Butler, and Brian Grant, to acquire Shaquille O’Neal from the Los Angeles Lakers. However, Riley will forever be linked to successfully convincing LeBron James to take his “talents to South Beach” when James, Wade, and Chris Bosh all joined forces in the summer of 2010. The signing of Ray Allen proved that Riley possesses the ability to convince high quality players that championships can be had if they join his team.

Will Phil Jackson become as legendary as an executive as he is a coach?

Will Phil Jackson become as legendary as an executive as he is a coach?

As Knicks fans jump for joy with the possibility of Phil Jackson taking over as president of basketball operations, there is a lesson to be learned from the Riley saga. As successful as Riley has been with the Heat, it took him 10 years to bring that franchise a championship. It took another six years and the best player in the NBA to win the second championship. There’s no doubt that the Knicks would have to be better with Jackson at the helm, as long as James Dolan stays completely out-of-the-way.

But, if Jackson’s goal is to bring a championship to New York, that does not seem to be on the way any time soon, based on NBA trends. So Knicks fans should temper their expectations regarding Jackson’s final decision and ask this question instead: Have the Knicks really learned from the Pat Riley saga, or is this just more of the same, with a so-called executive in charge on paper and Dolan meddling as usual behind the scenes?.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.

 

Deadline for Caribbean organization’s student program is March 31

Dr. Trotz of the Caribbean Science Foundation, address participants.

Dr.  Maya Trotz of the Caribbean Science Foundation, address participants.

The deadline for qualified students to apply to the Caribbean Science Foundation’s (CSF) annual Student Program for Innovation in Science and Engineering (SPISE) is March 31. SPISE is an intensive four-week enrichment residential summer program for gifted Caribbean high-school students who are interested in studying and exploring careers in science and engineering. The goal of the program is to help address the low numbers of Caribbean students pursuing advanced degrees in science and engineering, and to groom the next generation of science, engineering technology and business leaders in the region. Students who gain admission to SPISE are among the top scholars in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) in the Caribbean.

SPISE is one of CSF’s initiatives with the long-term goal of helping to diversify the economies of the Region by stimulating more technology-based entrepreneurship within the Region. The program is based at the CSF headquarters, which is located on the Barbados campus of the University of the West Indies. Key important partners of the SPISE are the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus, and the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC). SPISE is modeled after the well-known and highly successful MITES program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), web.mit.edu/mites. SPISE strives for a balanced class of 50% girls and boys. SPISE students study university-level calculus, physics, biochemistry, entrepreneurship, Mandarin and humanities. SPISE instructors are university professors and lecturers from the Caribbean and the MIT. SPISE students are also exposed to and coached by role models in career paths and choices, and assisted with their applications to universities and to internship opportunities in research centers globally.

CADSTI-CSF-Relationship-final-10-15-11

SPISE is a learning environment in which students are trained to think critically and to develop analytical and logical problem-solving approaches in several disciplines. Rote learning is discouraged. Grades, though important, are not emphasized. The focus is on understanding the concepts and fundamental principles in each discipline, and to gain enough mastery to apply these fundamentals to find solutions to complex problems that have not been encountered before. Students are judged on their self-improvement during the program.

Teamwork is yet another essential component of the SPISE experience, as the hands-on projects require students to work in groups, and to design and fabricate modules, components and systems that will be showcased to the public at the end of the program. Further, efficient study habits and time-management skills are taught. Students have about five hours of homework each night. Each student is challenged just outside his/her comfort zone. Teaching Assistants reside in the dormitories with the students so that course work assistance and general supervision are available 24/7 to the young students.

Debate Mae Jamaica team with Marilyn Nash of the Flanker Peace and Justice Center in Montego Bay.

Debate Mae Jamaica team with Marilyn Nash of the Flanker Peace and Justice Center in Montego Bay, show their enthusiasm to participate in the Caribbean Science Foundation’s events.

In 2014, approximately 20 students will participate free of charge, courtesy of generous support from sponsors. SPISE 2014 will run from July 19 to August 16. Applicants must be at least 16 years of age but less than 18 years of age on July 1, 2014, and have completed CSEC exams or equivalent in math and science subjects. Students from low-income households and girls are encouraged to apply. Student, Teaching Assistant and Instructor application forms are posted on the CSF website at http://caribbeanscience.org/projects/spise.php. Student applications are due on March 31, 2014. Please be sure to read the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) at the Website for further details. Sponsors from as many different countries as possible are invited to join in support of the program. Sponsors may opt to designate support for students from specific countries. Each student is branded as a scholar of their sponsor.

The cost per student is US$ 6,000 plus round-trip airfare between the student’s country and Barbados. The US$ 6,000 covers student housing, meals, stipends for the instructors and teaching assistants, and partial costs of lab equipment and supplies. The CSF supplies the sponsors with interim and final updates on the performance of their students and assists the sponsor by providing reports, photos and other materials to showcase their corporate social responsibility.

Please contact Prof. Cardinal Warde (warde.csf@gmail.com or 1-617-699-1281) with  questions about the program and about student sponsorship.-OnPointPress.net.

 

Six lessons to learn from the recent movie awards season

Steve McQueen created history at the Academy Awards, becoming the first black director to have his film win Best Picture.

Steve McQueen made history at the Academy Awards, becoming the first black director to have his film win Best Picture. McQueen boasts Caribbean and British heritage.

By Carmen Glover

Now that the movie awards season has come to a close it is instructive to examine the lessons that should be gleaned. Below are six important lessons that can be learned from the movies that were honored, nominated and snubbed. Perhaps by closely examining these lessons, the 2014 movie season will unfold with more promising results when the honors are meted out in 2015.

An elated Steve McQueen leaps for joy when the film he directed, "!2 Years a Slave" won Best Picture at the Oscars, a first for a black director.

An elated Steve McQueen leaps for joy when the film he directed, “12 Years a Slave” won Best Picture at the Oscars, a first for a black director. The film’s crew looks on in amusement.

1. Persistence Pays Off

As refreshing as it was to see director Steve McQueen, Lupita Nyong’o and John Ridley of “12 Years a Slave” walk off with the Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay, respectively, at the Academy Awards, the underlying message that emanated from their moving acceptance speeches was the importance of persevering. McQueen refused to give up when financial backing for his movie dried up. Then the benevolent Brad Pitt entered the picture with his Plan B Productions, lending much needed support to what critics worldwide have agreed is one of the most important films ever made because it chronicles the life of a free man who was kidnapped and forced into slavery to endure haunting realities before regaining his freedom.

Due to McQueen’s persistence, he triumphed in the end to become the first black director to see his film receive the Best Picture award by the Oscars. Ridley became the second African-American to receive the honor for Best Adapted Screenplay while Nyong’o won over the hearts of movie lovers across the globe with her riveting performance as Patsey, for which she won numerous awards this season.

An emotional yet eloquent Lupita Nyong'o delivers a stirring speech at the Academy Awards .t

An emotional yet eloquent Lupita Nyong’o delivers a stirring speech at the Academy Awards, where she won another in a string of Best Supporting Actress Awards this season for “12 Years a Slave.”

Nyong’o’s performance would not have been possible if McQueen hadn’t followed his instincts in casting an authentic dark-skinned actress with natural hair, who proudly embraces every aspect of her African heritage, in her first movie role. An exuberant McQueen jumped for joy as he hoisted his Oscar trophy, vindicated for his persistence, courage and determination to bring his vision to the life. Nyong’o brought tears to the eyes of fellow actors and movie lovers across the world when she delivered her acceptance speech with poise, despite shedding copious tears simultaneously.

“Thank you to the Academy for this incredible recognition. It does not escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in another’s,” she said, before thanking her family, the Yale School of Drama, which she attended, like the indomitable Angela Bassett, who won an NAACP Image Award for her role in “Black Nativity.”

John Ridley became the second African-American writer to win an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

John Ridley became the second African-American writer to win an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Ridley was emotional as he made it clear that Solomon Northup, whose memoir inspired “12 Years a Slave,” deserved all the credit. “All the praise goes to Solomon Northup. These are his words, his life. All the thanks goes to the entire crew, the entire cast,” said Ridley, gripping his Oscar onstage.

Chiwetel Ejiofor won Best Actor for "12 Years a Slave" at the BAFTAs.

Chiwetel Ejiofor won Best Actor for “12 Years a Slave” at the BAFTAs.

“12 Years a Slave” won Best Picture honors from the Golden Globes, British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTAs), Image Awards, Independent Spirit Awards and Screen Actors Guild, a real tribute to the power of persistence.

2. Trust Your Instincts

Like McQueen, who followed his heart in casting Nyong’o and the fiercely talented lead actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, who won Best Actor for “12 Years a Slave” at the London-based BAFTA Awards; Ryan Coogler, a 27-year-old first time director of “Fruitvale Station,” decided that the story of Oscar Grant needed to be told. Despite being a film student with very little disposable income, Coogler chronicled the short life of the young, unarmed Oakland father in a movie whose authenticity leaped off the screen based on stellar performances by Michael B. Jordan of “The Wire” and Octavia Spencer of “The Help.”

Ryan Coogler was not deterred in his quest to tell Oscar Grant's story in the gripping "Fruitvale Station."

Ryan Coogler was not deterred in his quest to tell Oscar Grant’s story in the gripping “Fruitvale Station.”

It took Coogler’s vision and determination to share the story in a movie setting. The Independent Film Award bestowed on the movie by the NAACP Image Awards was icing on the cake. How many times in life, do you feel compelled to do something, take a certain path, but you allow fears to consume and discourage you? Coogler’s success should be an example to others to trust your instincts. Never let naysayers cause your dreams to shrivel up. Take ownership of your goals and forge ahead, regardless of any obstacles that you encounter. Believe in yourself and like the Nike slogan: “just Do It.”

3. Follow Your Dreams/Take Chances

For years after the release of “The Best Man,” Director Malcolm Lee toyed with the idea of creating a sequel.

"Best Man Holiday" did well at the box office and was nominated for NAACP Image Awards.

“Best Man Holiday” did well at the box office and was nominated for NAACP Image Awards.

He finally decided to follow his dreams and the result was “The Best Man Holiday” which arrived in theaters on November 15, 2013 to the delight of enthusiastic fans. While the movie did not receive any industry awards, it was nominated in several categories at the Image Awards and did phenomenally well as the box office, with fans eagerly waiting for another follow-up, since the sequel ended with a cliff-hanger.

Forest Whitaker received the NAACP's Chairman's Award and Best Actor Award in a movie for "The Butler."

Forest Whitaker received the NAACP’s Chairman’s Award and Best Actor Award in a movie for “The Butler.”

Academy Award winning actor, director and producer Forest Whitaker expanded his creative reach and invested in “Fruitvale Station” as the executive producer. Not only that, he had his hand in two other notable movies in 2013: “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” for which he won Best Actor at the Image Awards and “Black Nativity” for which  Bassett won Best Actress.

Angela Bassett won an NAACP Image Award for her outstanding performance in "Black Nativity."

Angela Bassett won an NAACP Image Award for her outstanding performance in “Black Nativity.”

4. Live Your Passion

Comedian and actor Kevin Hart was named Entertainer of the Year by the Image Awards team for being an inescapable presence in movies, comedy tours and comedy series that entertained fans while highlighting his passion for his craft.

Kevin Hart was named Entertainer of the Year.

Kevin Hart was named Entertainer of the Year at the NAACP Image Awards.

Not only is Hart a hard worker, he has perfected the art of marketing and distributing his work as well as cross-promoting and branding his art so that it is impossible to miss what he has to offer. He lives and loves his passion, leading to enormous success.

5. Limited Releases Hurt Movies’ Viability and Visibility

“Fruitvale Station” opened in limited release in July 2013 before opening in wider release two weeks later. “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” opened on Christmas Day and had a limited run in theaters on very few screens, all of which hurt the movie, despite its compelling storyline and incredible performances by Idris Elba and Naomie Harris.

Michael B. Jordan's film, "Fruitvale Station," was named Best Independent Film.

Michael B. Jordan’s film, “Fruitvale Station,” was named Best Independent Film. by the NAACP Image Awards.

It is unfortunate that this trend of releasing movies for a limited run before opening the film nationwide, disproportionately affected important films about black life. This type of marketing strategy hurts black films and the practice needs to be examined closely and a better model embraced so that great films made in the future have equal chance for commercial and critical success.

6. Embrace the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ)

Many of the films that were honored previewed at the NABJ’s Convention in Orlando, Florida last summer. Also, many of the key individuals associated in the films made an appearance at the convention to talk to black journalists. McQueen, Nyong’o and Alfre Woodard discussed “12 Years a Slave” after a preview; Tyrese mingled with attendees after a preview of “Black Nativity.” Forest Whitaker participated in a question and answer session after showing “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” and Malcolm Lee took part in a panel discussion after showing “The Best Man Holiday,” although none of the film’s stars showed up for the event, as promoted.

Lupita Nyong'o joins Pharrell in dancing to his song "Happy."

Lupita Nyong’o joins Pharrell Williams in dancing to his song “Happy,” which illustrates her thankful and joyous mood after dominating the awards season with several honors.

As Nyong’o delivered the most poignant part of her speech and danced with joy alongside Pharrell Williams to his hit song “Happy,” the image of her sitting next to Woodard and McQueen at the NABJ convention in Florida, came to mind. “When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every little child that no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid,” she said at the Academy Awards. Who would have thought that the stars would have shone for her so brightly during the awards season, when she sat so calmly and spoke to a room full of journalists in Florida during the summer?

twelve-years-a-slave-trailer-11-615x300

In the end, being available to NABJ paid dividends because the films generated intense buzz that translated into a wider awareness for moviegoers. With the new movie season well underway, it is clear that if more black talent invest in movies and refine the distribution process they will solidify their presence in a way that compel all other entities to take notice or ignore the new breed of movie savants to their detriment. –OnPointPress.net

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Wayne Marshall thrills fans at album release party in NYC

Wayne Marshall poses for a picture for OnPointPress.net.

Wayne Marshall poses for a picture for OnPointPress.net during his album release party in NYC.

By Onissa Sancho

Jamaican reggae artist Wayne Marshall held a release party for his new album, “Tru Colors,” in New York on Thursday, Feb 27, 2014. The night was cold but that did not hamper the turnout for the event, which was held at The Delancey, a hidden but vibrant club located near the Williamsburg Bridge.

Upon entering the club it was easy to spot a dim red light which cast a glow over the room. Despite the cold weather, a crowd gathered to support Marshall’s album release. Vintage and current reggae hits drowned the air as men and women, old and young, of all ethnicities, moved their bodies to the catchy rhythms of the music. Minutes after midnight Marshall had not yet arrived but that did not stop the crowd from enjoying themselves and each other. The right songs, mixed with the right moves encouraged strangers to soon become new acquaintances.

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An area directly to the left of the DJ booth was reserved for Marshall and his crew, who arrived about twenty minutes after 1:00 a.m. It was easy to interact with Marshall, who quickly recognized the OnPointPress.net name after the interview which he granted the website on Wednesday Feb 26, 2014. “Thank you for the interview,” Marshall said when this writer introduced herself.

Marshall mixed with the crowd, shaking hands and greeting fans, who enjoyed giving their feedback about “Tru Colors.” About an hour after his arrival, Marshall took the microphone to welcome the guests, thank them for their support and then perform some of his songs from “Tru Colors.” Among the songs that he performed were the hits “Stupid Money,” and “Go Hard.” The appreciative crowd sang and danced along to Marshall, while many held their smartphones in their hands, taking pictures or recording the performance.

It was clear that the crowd had a good time listening to the music and interacting with Marshall up close and personal. Judging from the reaction to the songs, “Tru Colors” will continue to climb the Billboard Reggae Chart and enjoy success for many weeks.–OnPointPress.net

Onissa Sancho is an intern at OnPointPress.net.

 

 

Allen Iverson receives well-deserved honor from 76ers

Allen Iverson surveys the crowd as the fans show their standard support for him.

Allen Iverson surveys the crowd as the fans show their standard support for him.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

The  Philadelphia 76ers’ fans have had little to cheer for this season, but Saturday night, March 1, was different and the fans came out in droves to celebrate “The Answer” Allen Iverson. At halftime of the game between the 76ers and the Washington Wizards, Iverson was honored with the retiring of his jersey. Other 76ers whose jerseys have been retired by the 76ers, like “Dr. J” Julius Irving and Moses Malone, were also in attendance to honor the beloved star.

The 76ers  retired  the jersey  of Allen Iverson on March 1, 2014.

The 76ers retired Allen Iverson’s jersey on March 1, 2014.

Iverson was clearly choked up as he took to the podium to address the sold out crowd. During Iverson’s playing days, the only predictable aspect of his game was endless energy and effort. So it came as no surprise that the first person Iverson thanked wasn’t his family or friends, but Michael Jordan. Iverson explained his motivation for playing basketball by sharing, “Growing up, I was one of those kids that wanted to be like Mike.” Iverson thanked his family and closest friends by name as well as many of his closest 76ers teammates by name. As many people Iverson would go on to thank (including former General Manager Billy King and former owner Pat Croce), he realized he would not name everyone stating, “to those I didn’t mention, you know who you are and what you meant to me.”

Iverson looking very much like he did when he was taken with the first overall pick  in the 96' draft.

The ageless Allen Iverson looking very much like he did when he was taken with the first overall pick in the 96′ draft.

While Iverson omitted to mention some of his famous coaches like Larry Brown and John Thompson, he was as inclusive as one could expect, including thanking his competitors for “bringing the best out of me.” Iverson’s connection with the Philadelphia crowd has always been reminiscent of the fictitious Philly hero Rocky. Iverson’s never-ending drive, literally and physically, to win was embraced by the fans in a way few athletes have ever experienced. His influence on the NBA was expansive as Iverson’s distinctive style, including corn rows and numerous tattoos, would become commonplace shortly after he entered the league.

Iverson had one of the most successful sneaker brands for Reebok that garnered him a lifetime endorsement deal with that company. Iverson’s fans acknowledge his missteps on and off the court but celebrate the passion and excitement that “The Answer” brought to the game of basketball. The honor bestowed upon him by the 76ers organization on Saturday was well-deserved. –OnPointPress.net

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.

BET honors luminaries for their passion, commitment to excellence

berry gordy

L:R, Smokey Robinson, Ice Cube, Debra Lee, Berry Gordy, Wayne Brady and Stephen Hill.

By Carmen Glover

The recent broadcast of the 2014 BET Honors demonstrated the monumental impact that African-Americans have had in shaping the cultural and business industries. Multi-faceted entertainer Wayne Brady hosed the event and began the function by promising to show the audience “what extraordinary looks like,” when he gave snippets of the honorees’ backgrounds. He then invited two other men onstage as the trio performed their version of Ginuwine’s hit “Pony,” as the audience dissolved into laughter and appreciative cheers.

Kenneth Chenault

CEO of American Express, Kenneth Chenault, seen here with his wife, was honored at the BET Honors with the Corporate Citizen Award.

“No one achieves success on their own,” said Kenneth Chenault, CEO of American Express, in accepting his award. He cited his family and colleagues for supporting him on his journey to success. Chenault also encouraged others to strive for success. “You can make it by focusing on what you can control and the one thing you can control everyday is your performance,” he said.

Motown Founder Berty Gordy received BET's first Visionary Award for his pioneering efforts in music.

Motown Founder Berry Gordy received BET’s first Visionary Award for his pioneering efforts in music.

Berry Gordy was serenaded by Motown legend Smokey Robinson before being presented with BET’s first Visionary Award. A humble and emotional Gordy said that he appreciated the award because “Vision is beautiful to me. For me vision is about imagining where you want to go without knowing how you will get there. But it’s all about passion.”

Ice Cube received the Entertainer Award and said: “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would share the stage with entertainment greats like Aretha Franklin and Berry Gordy.” He thanked his family and stated that “No one has a career this long, 25 years, without the help of a lot of people.”

Smokey Robinson

Smokey Robinson serenaded his “best friend” Berry Gordy and showcased a voice that was as clear as crystal.

Carrie Mae Weems was given the Visual Artist Award and matter-of-factly stated: “The vast majority of you did not know my name and have never seen my work,” but she thanked BET for acknowledging her contribution to the arts.

Aretha

Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin accepted her award then performed in honor of Nelson Mandela.

Aretha Franklin received the Music Art Award and also sang in tribute to the late South African President Nelson Mandela. Franklin thanked BET for “the support, visibility and exposure that you have given me over the years.” She was regally attired and sang with the ease born of confidence in her talents.

Mariah

Mariah Carey debuted a new song at the event but her dress exposed most of her cleavage.

Mariah Carey performed while lying on a piano but although her singing was good, attention was primarily focused on her ample chest, displayed in a gravity-defying gown.

Jennifer

Jennifer Hudson performed a medley of Aretha Franklin’s songs that had the audience rocking.

While the background information about the award recipients was captivating, the night belonged to the two top performers of the evening: Robinson whose tribute to Gordy was so beautiful that it brought Gordy to tears, and Jennifer Hudson, who sang a medley of Franklin’s songs that was soaring, passionate and electrifying. Janelle Monae performed some of the Jackson Five songs in tribute to Gordy, which brought smiles to the faces of the audience members.

The BET Honors symbolized a commitment to acknowledging the versatility and achievements of outstanding African-Americans who are often overlooked in wider society when awards are being meted out. The awards show illustrate the importance of honoring talent and celebrating achievements that have shaped the American society in ways that are diverse and broad. –OnPointPres.net.

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